The plethora of food delivery services which are now available in Lahore have changed lives for all of us. Fill in a few lines of information, or click on a few buttons online, and a giant burger with crispy fries and a supersized drink will arrive at your doorstep.
Of course, you can choose healthier options, and virtually every food item that exists in Lahore, a city which of course delights in its food, can be in front of you in a matter of a few minutes at a call or an online request.
This is the theory.
Imagine yourself sitting hungry with a good TV show opened up on Netflix to watch, waiting for the order from your favourite restaurant to arrive. You wait, and you wait. If there is a number to call, there is either no reply or the employee who attends it denies any knowledge of your order. There are promises to call back. Your phone never rings. Even more frustratingly, some surfaces offer only online complaint services, where on live chat various persons pop up and give more absurd reasons for the failure to deliver your order.
But then, finally! The doorbell rings. You open the door, excitedly collect the package, grab a few fries even as you hand over the cash and rush to your computer screen. You tear through the paper bags and layers of environmentally unfriendly wrappings, eager to reach the much-awaited food. But then… one item is missing. It is the crucial item. It is the barbecue sauce you desperately needed to enjoy with your chicken wings. On top of that, only one person’s order has been delivered instead of two, leaving you no choice but to share your meal, each customer remaining hungry, and thinking wistfully of more food.
In most cases, however, especially on days when things are not busy, the delivery services do operate fairly smoothly. It is just the constant calls from riders seeking directions which add a jarring note to the meal. Occasionally, it is delivered to the wrong house and has to be rescued before it is wolfed down by your neighbours.
Tension levels are always high. The 40 minutes stated by the service to be the time for your meal to be delivered, with an online clock sometimes ticking down the minutes, add to the edge on the whole process of dining in. The experience of sitting in a restaurant with a napkin on your lap and waiters serving up the food is less common than it was before. But then, of course, the delivery services have made our lives so much easier. In every home, parents can expect to be billed for food ordered by their children who know the numbers of their favourite places by heart.
Life has changed, but the love of food in Lahore remains just the same, and it has become easier than ever to eat anything ranging from hareesa to hot-and-sour soup to hotdogs in the comfort of your pyjamas.